Roasted Rainbow Pepper Aioli

About 2 Cups assorted peppers, mild to hot.  I used mini red, yellow, orange, green, jalapeno and Thai Bird's Eye chilis
Sea Salt
Scant Drizzle Canola Oil
Parchment Paper
1 Cup Canola Oil

Begin by removing stems from all peppers.  Wash and slice lengthwise.  Coat in sea salt and a drizzle of oil.  Spread out into one even layer on a large baking sheet lined with parchment paper.  Bake at 350 degrees F for about 30 minutes.  Remove and allow to cool completely.  Add mixture to food processor and puree, scraping down sides as necessary.  While machine is running, drizzle in canola oil until emulsified.  Taste test and add additional sea salt if needed.  Store in large glass jar in refrigerator until ready to serve.  Use as a dip or sandwich spread.  Also goes great on your favorite pasta.


Roasted Garlic Hummus

I know, hummus AGAIN?!?!  But as all of you know, I am obsessed.  You can find lots of recipes on my site for mind-blowing hummus.  Most likely you have even made a batch or three.  I like to remind people to MAKE YOUR OWN!!  Have you ever noticed how expensive it is to buy?  Especially in the large containers where marketers claim you are getting a great deal.  Yup, and you even get those fillers, stabilizers, GMOs and preservatives to boot!  This easy recipe will not break your bank and I guarantee you and your family and friends will love it to the last drop.  They will probably ask you for the recipe. Get it here.

Roasted Garlic Hummus
2 sixteen ounce cans organic garbanzo beans
1/3 cup tahini
1/2 cup olive or canola oil
1 Tablespoon ground cumin
Juice of 4 small meyer lemons
6 cloves roasted garlic
Sea salt and black pepper (to taste)

Roast peeled whole garlic cloves at 475 degrees F on cookie sheet for 15 minutes.  Remove and set aside to cool.

Drain garbanzo beans and add to food processor.  Add lemon juice, tahini, cumin, sea salt, black pepper and garlic. Puree until smooth and drizzle in oil while machine is running.  Taste test for seasoning levels and adjust to taste.  Too salty?  Add more lemon juice.  Too lemony?  Add more sea salt.  Transfer hummus to large glass vessel and store covered in fridge until ready to serve.  Voila!  Easy as pie!

Roasted Summer Vegetables 101

Tired of unevenly roasted boring vegetables?  Here are a few tips sure to have you and your dinner guests drooling over your veggie party platter.

Tip #1 Parchment Paper is your new best friend

Tip #2 A little oil, salt and pepper go a long way

Tip #3 Add fresh chopped yellow onion and a lion's share of whole garlic cloves to give vegetables a flavor kick

Tip #4 Use high heat and a timer

Tip #5 Allow veggies to cool before tossing with salad and cooked whole grains like rice, pasta, couscous and quinoa

This succulent and versatile summer veggie blend is made up of zucchini, summer squash, yellow onion and garlic. Veggies got tossed in 1 tablespoon of canola oil and sprinkled with sea salt and fresh cracked black pepper.  Spread out in to one even layer on a large peice of parchment paper on your largest baking sheet.  Bake at 475 degrees F for 20-25 minutes or until golden brown.  Allow to cool on baking sheet to desired temperature.  Serve warm, at room temperature or cold.  Store unused portion in refrigerator for up to 3 days.


Authentic Thai Cucumber Salad

You know the stuff.  You get it in teeny tiny bowls at your favorite Thai joint.  Then you order a huge plate of it for two bucks and some change because you can't get enough and your lunch date ate most of it anyway.  It's tangy, sour and sweet and now you want some.  This satisfying side dish is easy to throw together and it costs next to nothing.  Here is what you need:

Authentic Thai Cucumber Salad
1 Large Cucumber
1/2 Small Red Onion
1/4 Cup Sugar
1/2 Cup Rice Wine Vinegar
1/4 Bunch Fresh Cilantro
1 Serrano Chili Pepper
1 Jalapeno Pepper
Sea Salt
Roasted Peanuts (for garnish, optional)

Begin by peeling cucumber.  Slice lengthwise and remove seeds using a spoon.  Slice thinly and set in a collander.  Next slice onion thinly and add to collander.  Cut peppers in half and remove white ribs and seeds.  Dice these finely and add to collander.  Sprinkle mixture with a generous amount of sea salt, toss with a spoon and set aside for 30 minutes (put a plate underneath to catch the liquid the salt will draw out of the mixture).  

Now rinse mixture thoroughly with cold water and shake off excess liquid, squeezing or you could spin it in a salad spinner.  In a large glass bowl, add sugar and vinegar.  Allow sugar to dissolve and add cucumber mixture.  

Stir to combine and add finely chopped cilantro.  Serve immediately or refrigerate until ready to serve.  Sprinkle with chopped roasted peanuts, if desired.


Baked JalapeƱo Corn Tortilla Chips

Okay folks, remember yesterday when I told you I was Mexican?!  Well, surprise, I'm not.  But the fact is I can NOT get enough Mexican food.  Instead of stopping at the grocery store for a gigantic bag of tortilla chips, I decided to make my own.  Since I am trying to cut calories to lose a few pounds before Summer, I decided to bake them instead of deep-frying (my usual method).

I really didn't want them to come out dry so I decided to coat them in a little oil before baking them.  But guess what!?  I used up all my oil making yesterday's Jalapeno Spread.  Solution = Coat them in the spread.  Result?  Genius.

So if you want to replicate these bad boys to the letter, you are going to have to make the Jalapeno Spread Recipe first.  Now, I'm not going to lie, they did come out a little dry.  But since they really are just a vehicle to get things like veggie chili and pico de gallo in to my mouth, I really didn't mind.

Baked Jalapeno Corn Tortilla Chips
6 Corn Tortillas
Jalapeno Spread
Sea Salt

Preheat oven to 300 Degrees F.  Begin by cutting your tortillas into fours.  Put them in a large bowl and using your hands, coat them gently with a couple teaspoons of the spread.  Make sure both sides are thoroughly coated.  Place them into an even layer on a large cookie sheet lined with parchment or non-stick aluminum foil.  Don't worry if they overlap a little.  Sprinkle with a little Sea Salt, if desired. Bake for 30 minute, turning over once halfway through cooking and check for golden brown doneness.


Jalapeno Spread

I am obsessed with all things spicy.  I'm pretty sure I'm Mexican underneath my white ass exterior.  But anyway, I digress.

Grab some fresh Jalapenos, roast them to perfection and make it rain!  This spread goes great on just about anything.  It is also simply delicious on a big, fat spoon.  Vamanos!

Jalapeno Spread
6-8 Fresh Jalapenos
4 Cloves Fresh Garlic
1/2 Red Onion
Canola oil
Sea Salt & Pepper
Fresh squeezed Lime
Fresh Cilantro

Begin by prepping your Jalapeno Peppers.  Wearing rubber gloves is a great idea.  Chop stems, slice lengthwise and remove white ribs and seeds.  Place them in a large roasting pan along with rough chopped red onion and whole garlic cloves (remove skins from both).

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.  Drizzle with a little canola oil, sea salt and black pepper.  Toss to coat and roast for about 15-20 minutes or until skins blister slightly.  Turn off oven and remove roasting pan from oven.

When mixture has cooled to touch, add all to food processor along with 1 bunch fresh cilantro (wash thoroughly) and juice of a few limes.  Turn on machine and drizzle in more canola oil until desired consistency is achieved.  Serve immediately or refrigerate unused portion for up to 5 days.


Coffee Ice Cubes

Beloved readers - I know it has been a minute since I have posted.  2014 has been a whirlwind and it's only likely to get busier as Summer is fast approaching!

On that note I have been finding myself needing a little more caffeine than usual.  Next time you make coffee, make an extra cup or two and pour it into an ice cube tray.

When the mood for iced coffee strikes, save yourself some coin by making your own.  As the cubes melt, your coffee won't get dilluted.  Or throw them in your high-powered blender along with your favorite creamer and sweetener (if desired) and Voilia!  You have your very own Frappacino and it won't cost 14 dollars at StarFu€k$.


Ground Tofu "Beef"

Convenience vegan prepackaged foods like ground soy meat are fine every once in a while but for a lot less money you can make your own faux ground beef  out of extra firm tofu and tailor the seasoning levels to suit your taste.  Today I went asian with my seasonings because I wanted to use the faux meat for stir fry.  Give it a try.  It is easy to make and fun to eat.  Your kids might even like it - mine sure do!

Ground Tofu "Beef"
2 one-pound packages extra firm tofu
1/4 cup soy sauce
1/8 cup olive oil
1 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon seasoning salt (like Lawrys)
1/2 teaspoon white pepper
1 inch knob fresh ginger (mince finely)
1 clove fresh garlic (mince finely)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Strain and press tofu to drain as much liquid as possible.  Cut into cubes and mix with all ingredients.  Place mixture in a casserole dish and bake for 1 1/2 hours stirring every 1/2 hour to ensure even browning. Remove from oven and use immediately or allow to cool before storing in refrigerator for up to 5 days.

Use in stirfry, soup, stews, shepard's pie, sandwiches, burritos and more!


Best Beer Batter

2 Cups Flour

1 Tablespoon Baking Powder

1 1/2 Stellas (or beers of choice)

2 teaspoons Sea Salt

Your Spices of choice!

i.e. Old Bay, Chili Powder, Garlic Powder, Black Pepper, White Pepper, Nutmeg, Lawrys, Mrs. Dash's or whatever you have on hand.

Mix dry ingredients together, then add beer.  Drink the rest of the beer, then drink another beer,  letting batter set for 15 minutes.  Coat any and all veggies, tofu or whatever you desire.

Fry in 375 Degree Oil until golden.  Sprinkle with Sea Salt and serve immediately with dipping sauces of choice.


Vegan Hawaiian Rolls

2 Packets Active Dry Yeast or 4 1/2 teaspoons
1/3 Cup Sugar
2 teaspoons Sea Salt
1 teaspoon White Pepper
4 Cups Unbleached All Purpose Flour
3 Tablespoons Vegan Butter
1 1/4 Cups Coconut Water
Olive Oil Baking Spray
Muffin Tin

Add all ingredients to bread machine and set dough cycle.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  When dough cycle is finished form loose balls of dough and place in muffin tin sprayed generously with Olive Oil baking spray.  Cover loosely with a lint free towel and allow to rise 45 minutes or intil doubled in size.  Bake for 15 minutes and allow to cool for 5 minutes in pan.  Remove from tin and serve immediately.


Fully Loaded Vegetable Tamale Pot Pie

Admittedly this recipe is a little time consuming but totally worth every minute.  It combines two of my favorite things, tamales and pot pies.  You can go traditional pot pie by topping it with rich, buttery gravy or take it mexican by pairing it with your favorite sides and sauces.  Either way I think you will agree, this filling comfort food dish is a true genius mash up.  Make some!

Fully Loaded Vegetable Tamale Pot Pie

Tamale "Crust"
4 Cups Masa Harina (Corn Flour)
2 teaspoons Baking Powder
1 Stick Vegan Butter (1/2 Cup)
1/8 Cup (any) Oil
3 1/2 Cups Vegetable Broth
2 teaspoons Sea Salt
1 teaspoon finely ground Black Pepper
Parchment Paper
Alluminum Foil

2 Russet Potatoes
2 Carrots
2 Ribs Celery
1/2 Red Onion
1/2 Cup Green Peas (frozen or canned is fine)
8 Button Mushrooms
1 Tablespoon Sea Salt
Additional Salt and Pepper (to taste)
Dash of any oil for sauteeing mushrooms)

Reserved liquid from boiled vegetables
1 to 2 Cups Vegetable Broth (depending how much reserved liquid you have)
4 Tablespoons Vegan Butter
4 Tablespoons Flour
Sea Salt and Pepper (to taste)

Begin by finely chopping potatoes, onions, celery, and carrots.  Put all in a pot of water with 1 Tablespoon Sea Salt and bring to a boil.  Cook just until potatoes are tender and strain (reserving liquid for later use in gravy).  Set vegetable mixture aside.  Slice mushrooms into thin slices.  In another saute pan, heat a little oil and saute mushrooms with a little salt until golden brown.  Set aside.

Tamale "Crust":
Time to make the Tamale "Crust".  In a large bowl combine Masa Harina, Salt, Pepper and Baking Powder.  Melt butter and add to Masa mixture.  Add oil and stir to combine.  Lastly add vegetable broth 1 cup at a time, stirring gently to incorporate until combined.  Set aside.

Time to assemble your pot pie!  Preheat oven to 350 Degrees Farenheit.  In a very large casserole dish place a peice of parchment paper larger than the dish so it fills dish and comes up the sides.  

Spoon half the Masa mixture into dish on top of parchment.  Spread mixture so you have one even layer about 3/4 inch thick.  Top with mushrooms, peas and vegetable mixture.  Press down slightly.  

Put remaining Masa mixture on top and press down into one even layer.  It helps if you wet your hands and do this.  

Don't worry if a few vegetables are peaking through.  Just do your best.  You are basically creating one giant tamale and it doesn't have to be perfect!  It is fine to "smoosh" the vegetables in between the layers.  Finally bring up the sides of parchment that were hanging over and fold a top casserole like a present.  

Use another peice of parchment to ensure top is covered and touching parchment on all sides.  Secure top with tin foil.  This creates a steam pocket for your masterpiece to cook.

Okay time to cook!  Put casserole dish on a large sheet tray and place in oven.  Pour water on sheet tray so it helps your tamale stay moist while steaming.  Be sure to check every 30 minutes while cooking and replenish water bath as needed.  Bake for at least 90 minutes.  Turn off oven and leave it in there for another 15 minutes.  You can check doneness (careful, it's steamy in there) by checking if the Masa has "set" and is no longer "wet".  Do NOT overcook because it will come out dry.  

Remove from oven and allow to cool for at least 10 minutes before serving.  Keep in mind the Masa will continue to cook/set even after it has been removed from oven.  

In a large sauce pan melt vegan butter over medium heat and add flour.   Whisk to combine and cook until golden.  Add broth and reserved liquid 1 cup at a time.  Add salt and pepper.  Bring to a gentle boil while whisking and then reduce to a simmer.  Taste test for seasoning levels.  Keep covered until ready to serve.  

Cooking times of tamale pot pie may vary based on individual ovens.

Serving suggestion:  serve with gravy and fresh chopped parsley.  If you want to go more traditional Mexican serve this pie alongside some pinto beans and your favorite salsa or hot sauce.  For example, check out my Arbol Fire Sauce recipe for inspiration.  Enjoy!!

Make it Mexican by topping it with this yumminess....

Arbol Fire Sauce
1 can tomato paste
1 red hot chili (dried or fresh with stem removed)
2 cups water
2 cloves fresh garlic
2 Tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon dried oregano
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper

Combine all in your high speed blender and then warm in a sauce pan for serving. Be sure to cover your blender with a towel and keep your hand on the top to avoid a tomato explosion in your kitchen. Trust me on this one. Serve immediately with your tamale cake and store any unused portion in refrigerator in a tightly sealed glass vessel for up to one week. ENJOY.


Taco Salad Salsa

If you have checked out my blog you know that I love making fresh salsa and that I rarely suggest canned ingredients.  However, this one stores well for days on end and goes great topped on mixed greens with avocado, a dollop of vegenaise and crushed tortilla chips for a great taco salad.  

It is a perfect way to have salad in a snap because you have already done the chopping ahead of time.  Of course if you just despise the idea of using canned beans, feel free to make your own and use them in this recipe.

Taco Salad Salsa
1 16 ounce Can Pinto Beans
1 16 ounce Can Diced Tomatoes
1/2 Yellow Onion
1 Cup Fresh Cilantro
2 Cloves Fresh Garlic
2 Jalapeno Peppers
1 teaspoon Sea Salt
1/2 teaspoon Dried Oregano
1/2 teaspoon Cumin
1/4 teaspoon Black Pepper
1 teaspoon Sugar (optional)
Juice and zest of 1 Lime

Drain, rinse and strain pinto beans and add to a large glass bowl along with the whole can of diced tomatoes (juice and all).  Dice onion, peppers and garlic and toss those in.  (Your choice if you leave ribs and seeds in the jalapeno peppers, just remember that will add heat).  Thoroughly clean and chop cilantro and add it in along with lime, salt, sugar and other seasonings.  Stir gently but thoroughly and cover with plastic wrap.  Allow to sit on counter for at least 30 minutes.  Store in fridge until ready to use.